Saturday, August 27, 2011

50th and 4th

Happy Birthday to my sisters!!! Yall are now two years older again ;)

Seeing that it has been a very long time since I wrote in this, this blog will hit a few past events and will be long. Sorry!

I will start with a Peace Corps 50th anniversary event in May. The Central Province was the host of a luncheon that consisted of a little over 20 volunteers, about Lusaka staff members (including our Country Director), and another 30+ locals. During the event the volunteers had displays for the four projects that are in Zambia (Fish farming, education, agriculture, and health). Around 2pm we started eating the extensive amount of food that took two days to complete. Our prize of the meal was a pig that we roasted in the ground for 18 hours the day before the event and the number of BBQ sauces that were homemade for it. We also had some awesome egg roles, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, chili, rolls, rice, lots of veggies and BBQ chicken! It was soooo delicious. I will tell you this, it felt really good to make a pulled-pork sandwich and top it with a spicy mustard BBQ sauce. My two favorite parts of the event besides the food was learning about SmileTrain and learning to make protein balls for children.

July 4th celebration/vacation. Starting July 1st I took off from the NW province and headed to Brooks’ site where we got to hang out and eat with his nearest family and catch up on everything since IST in January. It was a lot of fun staying at another volunteer’s house in another province. The next morning we hit the road on our way to Lake Samfya in Luapula Province. The road after where the Peace Corps house is located is one of the hardest roads to hitch on. We got to the road at 9:30AM and were getting car-blocked by a few Zambians that wouldn’t leave us alone. Eventually we decided to just start walking until we were no longer near anyone. The lake is 350km away still. We ended up getting two hitches that took us just a little way both times, but they were still greatly appreciated. Then we got dropped in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. It was miles of just bare road both ways you looked and small trees that provided absolutely no shade. Eventually a canter (a truck like the ones that carry oranges and suck in FL) picked us up and we made the mistake of getting in it. The truck was going so slow, stopping every half a mile and packing it in beyond full, we decided after a little while to get up because we felt unsafe. Not 30 minutes later did 4 huge safari vehicles come by and the last one picked us up!!! It ended up being a family from South Africa that was traveling to the same lake as us and then continuing on the next day even further north then where we were headed. They were so awesome. One of the moms gave us ice cold drinks; they had A/C and a TomTom in Zambia. That never happens. When we got to the beach where they were staying, it was not the same place as all of our friends we were meeting up with, we decided to pitch our tents there and find our friends in the morning because it was getting late. They invited us to join them for dinner which was awesome. We had ribs, rice, veggies and a South African spicy chicken stew. It was phenomenal. The family offered to take us to the location of where our friends were but they ended up coming and picking us up in a miners truck that was staying in a hotel next to where we would be camping. Before we all said goodbye the grandfather said a prayer and they sang Amazing Grace on the beach and took some pictures. When we got to our beach camping spot the hotel next to us had a volleyball court and, of course, I went and played for a few hours! The next day more people showed up and our numbers were near 15 on the beach. One of the volunteers is friends with a miner and they came out with a boat and we did some water skiing throughout the day. It felt so good to be on the water again even if it was not the ocean, which I still miss greatly. The next day we all just hung out and took in the sun and relaxed. On July 4th a few more volunteers showed up and our numbers we over 20. We went to the market down the street and grabbed a few chickens to kill and eat for dinner. I will say that some of those who killed the chickens were having a little more fun then they should have been having. Lol. Most of the others left on the 5th but there were about 10 of us that stayed for another day/night of fun in the sun. The hitching on the way was fun, but not nearly as good as the trip up. I actually got in to Kapiri pretty late and had to hitch out at 9pm from there to try and make it to Kitwe. The truck ride I got stopped 20 miles from there at a really sketchy truck stop so I hitched from there to Kitwe for the remainder of the night. So far one of the most fun things to do in Zambia is traveling around, hitching style, and seeing how far you can go and meeting the random people who pick you up.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Malaria!!! And new volunteers

Now that I have surely scared my entire family and friends with my malaria experience, I figured I would tell everyone how it went!
On the last day that I was in Solwezi for a RAP (Rural Aquaculture Promotion) workshop I started to get a headache. I didn't think much of it and took some headache meds to get rid of it. I went back to my village the next day (11th) and my headache was still there. I made it to my hut on the 12th and then a fever kicked in. My temp continually went up and down from 103 and 99. There was no way I could bike back to the boma to get to Solwezi with the fever so I had to wait until Tuesday (15th) for the Department of Fisheries to stop by and take me in to town. Once I got to Solwezi the worst part of the malaria kicked in (Google for symptoms). I took our blood test and found that I had mixed malaria (Falciparum and Vivax). After taking Coartem I felt better and waited a couple extra days in Solwezi to make sure. I got to ride up with the new RED (education) volunteers to drop them off at their sites for second site visit and was then dropped off at my site.
Then, I went to Siobhan's site on the 25th because she was hosting the second site visit after the volunteers spent a few days alone at their sites. On Sunday the 27th at around 5pm, I got super cold (on a warm day) and thought "here it goes again". It is wierd how once you get malaria you are able to see it coming right away next time. I didn't realize I had malaria the first time for 7 days. After about 30 minutes of freezing I got a headache. I took our blood test and failed with Falciparum malaria. Once again, I had to wait for transport but after taking my coartem I felt much better. I called the PCMO (Peace Corps Medical Office) and they wanted me to come down to Lusaka to do some blood work. So, off I went!
New RED volunteers. I got to take the PC truck back to Lusaka with the four RED volunteers and learned quite a bit during the 12 hour ride. They are a great group and I really hope they make it through swear-in. Their names are April, Dianna, Andrea and Brien. Brien is the closest of the four at 47KM South of me.
New LIFE (agriculture) volunteers. I have not hung out with the new LIFE volunteers but I will be going to Solwezi with them in the PC truck tomorrow morning. I am sure I will learn a lot about them then! Their names are Larry, John and Kelly. John and Kelly are married and Larry is my closest volunteer at 17KM North of me. The RED volunteers will swear-in in 2 weeks and the LIFE volunteers will swear-in one week later.
I got my preliminary results from my blood test and they said I was clear of malaria now. So I will continue taking my prophylaxis and hope that i don't get it again.
I hope everyone back home is staying safe and not getting sick like me ;)
Love and miss you all

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dear Ashley

On January 29, 2011 a very dear friend of mine passed away. Ashley was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in August of 2009. I still remember when I found out about it. I was living in Oklahoma at the time and I flew home for a vacation. The day I left to go back to Oklahoma Ashley told me. I was sad but I knew she was a fighter. I have known her family for so long and don't even want to consider the pain they are feeling. I remember seeing Ashley during the Pop Warner days, Little League and during high school when I played baseball with Kyle. I am happy that I came back from Oklahoma before coming to Africa because I got to see Ashley a lot at softball games and tournaments. When Ashley shaved her head while going through chemotherapy it had been over a year since I shaved my head with a razor... I know I am bald on top and always kept my hair short, I decided to start shaving it again for her. When I came home I went to dinner with Ashley. We went to Outback Steakhouse and I still remember which table we sat at. I know everyone says great things about there friends but Ashley was the type of person that you could never say anything bad about. I am going to miss her so much. Ashley was a mom to a gorgeous daughter named Jayla. Jayla will certainly grow up knowing that her mother was one of the best people ever to come out of St. Augustine. With so many friends and family by her side, many wish they could be so lucky to have a mom like Ashley. I am going to miss Ashley because she was my friend. She had a sweet smile and BLUE eyes!!! I am going to miss her at the softball games and around town. I have had people tell me things that try to lift my spirits about her passing, but it still hurts. One I do agree with though is when one of my friends told me that "She is happy with God now and she is no longer suffering." I still find it hard to smile when I think about her but when I look at pictures of her I can only think of the great memories we had. God took a great person from us but our wounds will heal. I have a lot of free time over here in Africa to think about her (not sure whether that is good but we will find out). My tears will continue to fall for her.
I pray for all of those out there that are battling this awful illness and I pray that someone finds a cure so that these wonderful angels of our world stay with us a little longer. My prayers go out to all the family and friends of those who have lost someone to Breast Cancer. My thoughts and prayers go out to all my friends that knew Ashley. I will be reunited with Ashley again and I can't wait to give her the biggest hug. To see her eyes light up when I walk through the gates and call her name. For now, Ashley will look over all of us. She will be there for us when we need a helping hand and she will listen when we need someone to talk to. I will never forget how hard she fought this battle and the many people she inspired while doing so.
I love you Ashley Elizabeth Daniel. I am proud to say that I knew you and that you were my friend. I can't wait to see you again and hold you in my arms one more time.
March 30, 1987 - January 29, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011



TRAVEL: On Jan. 2nd, myself, Hunter, Michelle and Joe hitched from Solwezi to Lusaka at 6am. It took seven hitches to reach our final destination but we got two hitches that were AWESOME! The trip is 14 hours long if you go by PC vehicles, it took us less than nine. One car was doing 130KPH the entire time we were with him. When we arrived in Lusaka, we stayed at Cha Cha Cha Backpackers Lodge (hostel). Upon arrival we all jumped in the pool then had dinner to combat our long day. We went to sleep at 10ish and then I got a call from Will saying he couldn't find our hostel... So I had to wake up and go find him because I couldn't describe the correct location.
The next morning we left the lodge at 7am and set off to hitch to Livingstone! Because there were five of us, we brok up into two groups: Hunter and Joe, and Michelle, Will and I. It is easier for girls to get a hitch so Michelle went with a bigger group. Hunter and Joe walked ahead of us to seperate the groups. We got picked up maybe a minute after the split by two ladies whotook us 300km to Choma (200km short of Livingstone). Our next hitch took us the remainder of our trip. Throughout the entire hitch we only had to pay 70pen total for a 21 hour drive. We arrived in Livingstone six hours before Hunter and Joe who arrived at 21hours (9pm).
Once we arrived Will and I jumped in the pool for a couple of hours. Around 18hours we saw two other volunteers who were also staying at Jollyboys. Hunter and Joe arrived just after we finished cooking dinner.
JOLLYBOYS!!! Jollyboys is a backpackers lodge that gives the visitor exactly what is needed when wanting to see everything in Livingstone. Inside the lodge grounds is a pool, bar, ping-pong, pooltable, internet room, lounge area and a peace and quiet loft! There is also a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world.
PEOPLE I MET: My favorite were the three Australians I met, Conrad, John, and Marianna. Conrad and I played some awesome ping-pong games! I also hung out with them a couple of the nights at the lodge just before they left. I met two girls who are volunteering in Namiia who are from Britain and Scottland. Their names are Ellie and Mel. We met a few girls from South Africa named Ashley, Laura and Donnae. A large group of PCV's from Namibia, who were about to COS (close of service) were also there for one last vacation before going home. We met a group of missionaries from all over the USA including one from Niceville, FL. Her name is Kimberly and we later found out that we have a mutual friend back home! Also in that group was Natalie, Tom, Daniel and Woody. Everyone in our dorm room was PC except one girl whose name is Zoyla from Colorado. She is doing an internship in Namibia.
FUN : When we woke up on the forth of January we took the free shuttle, provided by Jollyboys, to Victoria Falls!!! Thanks to PC we have Alien Registration Cards that gets us into the park for 7pen ($1.20) instead of $20.00 if you're not a resident. The falls are literally too beautiful to explain but I left some pictures. After a few hours of looking around we all decided to go to Angel's Pool (pics of us jumping off a cliff). We had to walk for 20-30 minutes through knee to theigh-high water to get to our destination. The hardest part though was at the very beginning. We had to side-step for 50 meters on a concrete wall that was 4in wide and 8in beneith the rushing water. Once in the Angel's Pool water you can swim to the edge of the falls. After we got back to the trails we decided to head back to Jollyboys and grab dinner!
After a long night of ping-pong, swimming, pool and for some people, drinking, we all went to bed. The next morning a few of us went back to the falls to look at some trails we didn't get to explore the first time. Will and I wandered down a path and kept going after it ended. We found a concrete tunnel and decided to go into it. We put on our headlamps and wandered in. After about 30 meters in, we saw a colony of bats and decided to head back. A little later we ran into a family of baboons who were completely used to humans and were not afraid to steal our food. I was able to get within a few feet of a mother giving a little TLC to her baby. I have a picture of a baboon sitting on a bench as well. After checking out the many other trails, we headed back to Jollyboys. Hunter and Joe did not join us on this adventure but they did include us in for dinner when they went shopping. They bought sausage, chicken, pork, steak and baked beans from a can. It was a protien overload. Hunter does not care for vegetable EVER! Once again everyone hung out and made their rounds of talking to different people.
The next day we spent relaxing by the pool and waiting for 230pm to roll around. Hunter and Will went to the Crocadile Farm and got to hold a snake and baby Croc. Myself, Joe, and Michelle went to a park that allowed you to play with baby cheetah's and lion's. The cubs were each six months old. This encounter was by far the best thing I have ever done. I mean, it's not everyday you get to play with two lions. The whole interaction lasted an hour and we got a lot of great pictures.
The next morning a few of us went and played golf at the Royal Livingstone gold and Country Club. It was by far the worst kept golf course I have ever played on. However, we had a lot of fun. On the 6th hole it began to absolutely downpoor on us. We took a 15 minute stop of play and then decided to call it. Once we got about 200ft from when we called it, it stopped raining. We started back! On the 8th hole it rained again but this time never stopped. After ten minutes of waiting we decided to play through the rain. On the 9th hole I was searching for my ball by a tree and ten seconds after I walked away, the entire tree fell. I ended up winning by 5 strokes!!!
The last day we were there was also our travel day back to Lusaka for our meetings. Will and I challenged Hunter and Joe to a hitch-off. Whoever could hitch back to Lusaka the fastest would win 10pen each. If you pay for the hitch, it is 1 hour added to your time for each 10pen paid. We all made it for free but Will and I won by three hours. Now we are in Lusaka doing meetings for the next two weeks. Atleast I get to see everyone!!!!
Hope you all enjoyed :)

I also wanted to give a shoutout to Missy Cessna! I hope you continue enjoying my blog! ps. your daughter has a shopping problem lol.